Is One Free Credit Report Actually Enough.
Submitted on Sat, 16 Oct 2010
The answer to this question is a resounding "No". Checking a credit report once a year is not enough by a long shot, for a large variety of reasons. Unfortunately, it is what most people do, as the government offers a free report once a year at the Annual Credit Report website, but with a small investment, it is simple to get a much better deal.
So the question is: Why is it not enough? The first answer to this is that the consumer who uses this option does not see the score associated with the report. While the report that one receives does show everything that the credit agencies see, they do not show the associated score. And this is a big deal, because formulas that are used to calculate the score are arcane trade secrets. It is nearly impossible for anyone outside of an agency to see these formulas, and they can be full of surprises. Someone can have nothing negative in their record and still have only an average score. One must see the score to know what to expect.
Another problem is that many people use this once-a-year viewing of their credit to watch out for identity theft. Identity theft can, and does, happen overnight, and checking once a year is not enough to prevent that at all. Nobody looking for identity theft would check their credit card statement once a year. No, one must view his or her report at least once a month to see if somebody is maliciously opening accounts in his or her name. Checking once a year can only reassure a consumer that their identity is not being stolen at that instant. In fact, with that time interval, somebody could easily open and then close an account before someone notices.
With this being said, what is the solution? The solution is that one cannot rely on free tools. One must sign up for a subscription website that allows him or her to view the credit information, including the score, far more than once a year. Good websites for such a service include freecreditreport.com and creditreport.com. These websites, for a small monthly subscription fee, allow a consumer to view his or her credit report at regular intervals, typically once a month. This can keep one far more alert and gives far more information than one could ever get from any free source available.
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